IFPRI Global Food Policy Report 2013

WAB_GFPR_2013_370x82_orgLaunched this week, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Global Food Policy Report 2013 sets out past developments and future directions in tackling hunger and malnutrition. 2014 is an important year for food and nutrition security as the final efforts towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals and the development of the post-2015 agenda are put into action.

Progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals has been mixed. Globally we are on track to halve poverty, increase access to drinking water and reduce the incidence of malaria and tuberculosis but those goals relating to hunger, child mortality, access to primary education, reproductive healthcare and sanitation largely remain beyond our reach. The Sustainable Development Goals will, however, propose targets even more ambitious: eliminating hunger by 2025, for example. They will also be expanded in scope, as discussed at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, to cover climate change, urbanisation, conflict and sustainable consumption and production. A United Nations Development Group report, A million voices: the world we want, which collected views and opinions from over 1 million people across the world, highlighted the need for a more holistic agenda that addresses the complex and interlinked challenges the world faces through an equality, justice and human rights lens. People also called for better measurement of progress to support greater accountability.

Central to discussions on the agricultural development component of the SDGs has been the need to increase production without harm to environmental and social processes. Sustainable intensification and efficient food production will likely feature within the post-2015 agenda although it is recognised that sustainable intensification requires transformative change along the whole value chain and at the policy level, as well as widespread adoption of innovative technologies, and thus poses a significant challenge in both designing a goal and in putting into practice. Indeed, finding goals which will effectively reflect the multidimensionality of food and nutrition and their links to the wider environment will be a challenge. [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Traditional innovation in farming is under threat, Thomason Reuters Foundation

Tanzania becomes a battleground in fight over genetically modified crops, The Washington Post

The battle lines on food labelling, Politico

Agric: Key to achieving MDGs, Daily Trust

Women’s land rights matter for tackling hunger, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Africa Should Not Ignore the Potential of GM Crops, Jane Karuku

Changing course to feed the world in 2050, Triple Crisis

Seeds of discontent documentary unveils how foreign investors fuel land grabs, Agrarian Justice

‘It’s the small-scale producers who feed the world – promote and protect them’, The Guardian [Read more…]

Counting hunger

ID-10030437 (2)When the writing of One Billion Hungry: Can we feed the world? began in 2010, it was estimated that there were around one billion chronically hungry people in the world, hence the title. When the book was launched in 2012, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, in their State of Food Insecurity in the World, had revised their methodology for calculating the number of hungry and published an updated figure of 870 million for the period 2010-2012 (details of their methodology and revised estimates can be found in a previous blog post). The new calculations indicate that the prevalence of extreme malnourishment peaked in 1990, fell to 2006 and then remained stable.

Getting these numbers right is incredibly important because they influence policy and form the basis upon which global decisions regarding hunger and development are made. But calculating worldwide statistics is notoriously difficult given the scale and the reporting requirements. Even so the FAO’s methods have received strong criticism, and weaknesses have been acknowledged internally.  A new paper by Moore Lappé et al, How we Count Hunger Matters, details the downfalls of the FAO’s assumptions and calculations, and the more nuanced way we should be looking at hunger.

Because of the revised hunger numbers it appears we have made more progress in achieving the first Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015 than previously thought. This redefinition means that we are now about five-sevenths of the way toward meeting the goal rather than one-seventh of the way there. But is this really true or have the goal posts just been changed? [Read more…]

ONE 2013 DATA Report: Financing the Fight for Africa’s Transformation

US-press-669-491Content for this blog is taken from here, authored by Ben Leo, Global Policy Director at ONE.

Ahead of the G8 summit on the 17th and 18th June, the ONE campaign published their 2013 Data Report, which focuses on tracking how developing countries are progressing on the Millennium Development Goal targets using the ‘MDG Progress Index’.   The report also measures how sub-Saharan African governments are faring against their own spending commitments in three poverty-busting sectors: health, agriculture and education. Finally, it offers recommendations for how the global community can intensify its efforts in a sprint to the MDG finish line.

The report shows that some significant progress is happening.

  • There are 10 sub-Saharan African MDG ‘trailblazers’ and dozens of countries have improved their performance.
  • Sub-Saharan African resource flows have quadrupled since 2000, including domestic government expenditures, which account for almost 80% of all available finance. Domestic revenues, foreign investment, donor assistance and remittances are all playing an important role in boosting growth and development.
  • Countries that allocate more of their budget to health, agriculture and education are, on average, progressing faster on the MDGs. For example, over the last decade, Burkina Faso spent a whopping 52% of its national budget on these three sectors and is currently on track to achieve four MDG targets (out of eight) and partially on track for another two.

But also areas that need considerable work.

  • Some countries are falling behind on the MDG targets and slowing down regional progress. Nine of the fourteen global ‘laggard’ countries are in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • African governments are falling far short of their own spending targets, and this has very real consequences. Take a large country such as Nigeria, which alone accounts for 11% of annual child deaths – if it were to meet its health spending commitment over the next three years, the additional resources could amount to $22.5 billion. This could pay for vaccinations for every single child, anti-malarial bed nets for every citizen, and treatment for every HIV-positive person, saving millions of lives.
  • Many donors are also off track in delivering on their promises, such as reaching aid levels of 0.7% of GNI by 2015 and delivering half of those increases to Africa. While aid flows rose dramatically from 2000 to 2010, we have now seen two consecutive years of decline, and, shockingly, sub-Saharan Africa is bearing the brunt of these cuts. [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Let’s tackle inequality head on for development after the MDGs, The Guardian

USAID, AfDB, Government of Sweden Announce Agriculture Fast Track, USAID

Forests and food security: back on the global agenda, Thomson Reuters Foundation

The ‘superwheat’ that boosts crops by 30%: Creation of new grain hailed as biggest advance in farming in a generation, The Daily Mail

Managing food price instability: Critical assessment of the dominant doctrine, Galtier, F. 2013

Adesina’s Brazil visit, agricultural transformation agenda and the farmers, Peoples Daily

High-tech: The best solution to take farming to the next level, The Citizen

Food aid for the 21st century (Opinion), Chicago Tribune

What will it take for policymakers to act on climate change?, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Cambridge-based scientists develop ‘superwheat’, BBC News

Taking action on malnutrition

ID-10031262 (2)A lack of sufficient nutrients in the diet is responsible for around 2.6 million deaths of children per year, the largest killer of children in the world. Those children that do survive will be stunted in their physical growth and mental development, which can not only cause health problems but will detrimentally impact their education and earning potential for the rest of their lives. This is a risk faced by some 165 million children across the world.

This year, high-level decision makers will come together on 8th June for a Hunger summit, hosted by David Cameron, ahead of this year’s G8, and nutrition will likely be on the agenda. But what action can leaders, donors and people on the ground take to tackle undernutrition?

The Montpellier Panel, in their 2011 briefing paper on Scaling Up Nutrition, outlined the urgent need for children to receive adequate nutrition in the first 1000 days of their lives (from conception to 2 years old). It also detailed the measures the United Nations Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement was taking globally to combat child undernutrition. The SUN movement works with partner countries (35 to date) to integrate nutrition into development plans across sectors such as health, education and agriculture.

In particular the SUN movement supports the following interventions and policies:

Specific Nutrition Interventions

  • Support for exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age and continued breastfeeding, together with appropriate and nutritious food, up to 2 years of age;
  • Fortification of foods;
  • Micronutrient supplementation; and
  • Treatment of severe malnutrition.

Nutrition-Sensitive Approaches

  • Agriculture: Making nutritious food more accessible to everyone, and supporting small farms as a source of income for women and families;
  • Clean Water and Sanitation: Improving access to reduce infection and disease;
  • Education and Employment: Making sure children have the energy that they need to learn and earn sufficient income as adults;
  • Health Care: Improving access to services to ensure that women and children stay healthy;
  • Support for Resilience: Establishing a stronger, healthier population and sustained prosperity to better endure emergencies and conflicts; and
  • Women’s Empowerment: At the core of all efforts, women are empowered to be leaders in their families and communities, leading the way to a healthier and stronger world.

Recent interest has focused on the contribution of agriculture to ending hunger and malnutrition. Agriculture plays a crucial role in access to nutritious and diverse crops, affordable sources of foods and as an income source but the links between agriculture and nutrition are not always clear. Several recent reports have summarised how agricultural development can have positive outcomes for household nutrition. [Read more…]